HOUSTON (FOX 26) - Police believe the remains of a child found in a trash bag in Arkansas could be those of missing 4-year-old Maleah Davis.
Those remains have are being flown back to Houston so they can be identified. The search for Maleah moved to Arkansas after her stepfather, Derion Vence, told activist Quanell X he dumped her body there. Vence told Quanell that her death was an accident.
Maleah was reported missing on May 4. Vence first told investigators he was knocked unconscious by three men who kidnapped Maleah. Later, surveillance video emerged showing him carrying a laundry basket with a black trash bag inside.
Investigators then uncovered Maleah's blood inside an apartment. Police arrested Vence on a charge of tampering with a human corpse.
Maleah's mother, Brittany Bowens, says she was in Massachusetts at her father's funeral when Maleah went missing. Bowens says she didn't take Maleah with her because she didn't have the money to do it, even though she allegedly knew that Derion Vence had been abusive toward her daughter.
Throughout the ordeal, many people have wondered if she knew more about Maleah's disappearence than she was letting on.
Local mothers are speaking out about how she handled this situation as a parent.
"We don't need love that bad," says author and journalist Reshonda Tate. "It was who she allowed around her child. I don't know if it was for the sake of love, she felt like she couldn't get anyone else, I don't like to judge mothers, but she gets a serious side eye."
The heartbreaking part of the situation is that the threat could have been avoided.
"This could have been prevented," says media personality Antre'chelle Dorsey. "This is why we are angry as mothers and as people. In the future, will she be able to admit that she put a man before her child?"
Maleah's disappearance and possible murder are a testament to a bigger, systemic issue.
"There were a lot of red flags, and this child was given back to Brittany and Derion when she shouldn't have been," said Shere Dore with Black Lives Matter. "When I was seven, I was given back to my mother who then tried to kill me and my brother, and CPS thought everything was okay. They need to dig harder."